John 10:22

Pop quiz… where is the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah mentioned in the Bible? It’s only mentioned in one place. Any ideas? John 10:22. In that passage, John wrote,
At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter… (John 10:22)

The Feast of Dedication is also known as Hanukkah.

So, what was the Feast of Dedication and what might John be telling us about this teaching of Jesus? The Feast of Dedication was a commemoration of the rededication of the temple by Judas Maccabaeus in 165 BC. This was in response to the assault on the Jews and Judaism in 167 BC by the Assyrian king, Antiochus Epiphanes, who claimed to be a deity (“God manifest), who attacked Jerusalem and desecrated the temple. He ultimately sacrificed a pig on the temple altar to a pagan god. In response, the people led by Maccabaeus overthrew their oppressors, took back the temple, and rededicated it to God. The Jewish people celebrated the rededication for 8 days and it was decreed that the Feast of Dedication should be held at the same time every year.

You might be thinking, well that’s a great history lesson, but what does it have to do with my life? That’s a fair question. If you read through John 10:22-42, you’ll see people struggling with what Jesus was teaching and wanting him to offer more proof and more plainly tell them what he wanted them to know. Jesus then made the clear claim, “I and the Father are one.” He was claiming to be God, to be their long-awaited Savior and Messiah. The people’s response to Jesus’ clarity was picking up stones to kill him (v. 33). It turned out they had enough clarity to kill him, but not enough to believe in him.

Catch the irony: they were celebrating the Feast of Dedication where they remember the dedication of the Temple. The Temple was the place where people came to worship God – it was, in a sense, the overlap of heaven and earth. Now, Jesus, the “Word made flesh” is “tabernacling” among them … (John 1:14) and they missed him! The ultimate fulfillment of the Feast was staring them in the face and they resisted belief, they refused to worship. They are celebrating God’s work in the past, but missing him in the present.

I think there are times when we are far more comfortable celebrating what he did in the past than we are about anticipating and expecting God’s work in the present. God’s faithfulness in the past, in events like the ones celebrated during Hanukkah, should give us confidence that God is at work in the present. He’s the same faithful God!

Today, take a moment to think back on God’s faithfulness. Then allow his past faithfulness to inspire you to open your heart more fully to his presence in your life today.

Pastor Ryan Paulson

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